Young bin Laden rejects father’s violence
In a communique issued in Madrid, Omar bin Laden says he is against his father’s activities and that it is unfair for Spain to deny him asylum because of his family name.7 November 2008
MADRID – The son of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, on Thursday distanced himself from his father's violence on appealing against Spain's decision not to grant him political asylum.
In a communique issued in Madrid, Omar bin Laden, 28, said he was a "man of peace" who rejected his father's "activities".
Bin Laden and his British wife Zaina al-Sabah, 52, said it was "unfair" for Spain to deny bin Laden asylum because of his family name.
The couple arrived Monday on a flight from Cairo to Casablanca in Morocco, when it made a stopover in Madrid. Bin Laden immediately requested asylum on grounds that he did not feel safe in Saudi Arabia, which he is a citizen of, or in Egypt, where he lives, or in any other Arab country.
The government rejected the request partly on the basis of a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The UNHCR saw no evidence that bin Laden's life was in danger in Saudi Arabia, according to the daily El Pais.
The communique said Omar was "only a child when he lived with his father in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan. When Omar later understood his father's "activities", he "realised that they disagreed on many important points".
The communique pointed out that Muslim culture "prohibits children from criticising their parents", explaining why Omar had been accused of ambiguity in commenting on his father.
Al-Sabah, formerly known as Jane Felix-Browne said her husband was "depressed and very worried" about the couple's security, but would persist in attempts to obtain asylum in Spain.
She also said she needed to have a bodyguard, and expressed concern that the airing of television images of the couple in Spain could further jeopardise their security. Bin Laden is being held in a security area at Madrid airport.
The couple denied allegations that they were seeking publicity for an eventual book or movie.
However, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Spain intended to reject bin Laden's appeal as he did not meet Spanish legal requirements for political asylum.
He added that Spain would not grant the Saudi asylum even if the UNHCR issued a favourable report now.
If both the government's decision and the UNHCR report are negative, bin Laden can be expelled immediately, though he still retains the option of lodging a second appeal through the judiciary.
The Interior Ministry has to deal with bin Laden's appeal against its initial decision within two days.
In April, Britain denied a visa to bin Laden, saying his presence would create public concern.
Omar bin Laden is the fourth of Osama bin Laden's 11 children by his first wife. He said he left his father before the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. Bin Laden later worked as a metal trader in Saudi Arabia. He met al-Sabah in Egypt in 2006.
[dpa / Expatica]